After the latest episode of Game of Thrones( The Spoils of War) , you will read a lot of articles about the dragon battle at the ‘Loot Trail’ but I want to speak on the character moments here today.
This episode had significant character moments. But not all shot in Shot-Reverse-Shot. This is what differentiates Game of Thrones from other TV shows. And brings the show closer to the big screen in matters of technique than any other before it. A lot of Tv-shows rely on character moments which are defined/delivered by half close-ups showing a conversation bouncing back and forth between the two people talking. This can work greatly and great filmmakers have used it to great success (P.T. Anderson and Quentin Tarantino come to mind) To further analyze this difference Game of Thrones displays, let’s first get into the three most important character conversation moments in this episode and speak on how they were brought forth to the viewers visually.
Bran and Meera:
Meera appears into Bran’s quarters to say goodbye as she wants to be with her family when the Whitewalkers come. We see them being shot in seperate opposing shots as they disagree and emotions begin to roll out. Until Bran tells to Meera he isn’t Bran anymore. Meera starts to realize that the true Bran had died at the tree. She begins to understand him more, we see Bran and Meera in a tighter frame blocked to be next to each other, two sides of a coin, empathy and indifference.
Arya and Sansa:
After finding out Arya may be at Winterfell Sansa realizes she knows where Arya must be. The scene in the crypt is a slow scene that unravels both characters until they’re familiar enough for us to call it a true reunion. And that was the theme of the scene.
We see the slow escalation into familiarity as the scene unravels. Out of the 41 cuts in the scene we see it start off as single shots of each character and as they speak as sisters more and more and the familial bond strengthens and they learn more about each other,they appear in the same shot together more. Save for certain reactions from Snasa to hearing about certain things that catch her off guard about Arya (ala The List). The scene ends after an embrace and Arya learning of Bran’s presence at Winterfell. After which we see each character’s reaction to hearing and dispelling that piece of information sharing a moment of familial distress.
Jon and Dany:
Jon and Dany are in one of the most revealing scenes of the episode. The scene is shot again in a non-conventional reveal structure. The characters are in a state of disagreement at the beginning of the scene. Disconnected and distant. We see them physically apart when they enter the cave of Dragonglass (*cough* Which looked stunning in HD *cough*). We begin to see Jon explain the motives and actions of the children of the forest and the first men. Mentally they are in agreement and for that period we see them in 5 shots in the same frame. Until Dany reveals that she would agrees to work together to defeat a common enemy, as long as Jon agrees to bend the knee. After this reveal we see our characters in the scene entirely detached and framed to be in entirely different backgrounds. Until the conversation leads to a place we as viewers don’t get to hear. But we see them in a tracking shot in the same frame leave the cave side-by-side. A true basic study in alternative ways to frame conversations and negotiations.
We do then go onto see Dany making decisions as she looks off and away from her most trusted allies/advisors. Making a decision that could turn the table for her. That scene is framed in collective isolation as even when surrounded by people she trusts, the final decision she still makes alone.
These were the most important character moments. There were more. An honorable mentions to Podrick and Brienne’s scene where Pod tells Brienne upon seeing the three Stark children together, that Catelyn Stark would be proud of her. After this Brienne doesn’t correct Pod when he calls her a Lady, and takes the compliment and says thank you. A clear character development moment and all done without physically moving the characters or cutting to flashbacks. This differentiates this show from others on TV as something we see in TV a lot is using the use of flashbacks to previous episodes. Films do not usually need to jog a viewers’ memory as the scene must’ve happened within the last 3 hours anyway.
Another honorable mention is the scene between Bran and Littlefinger. A conventional scene, but with a lot of power visually given to Bran. The performances sold the urgency and discomfort of the two characters. It didn’t seem to mean anything at all. Nothing we know yet at least.
The scene between Jon and Theon is shot to display Theon as an inferior that the viewer should not side with, many more shots from Jon’s side of the conversation than Theon’s and the angles provided a point of view that didn’t inspire confidence in Theon’s side of the conversation to begin with.
This episode may have had the most amazing and kinetic battle sequences ever on TV filled with brilliant acting moments. But I just felt we mustn’t let that overshadow the cunning and always innovative character moments we got from this episode and we’ve just been spoiled with the last couple of seasons.
Thanks for reading, more of my opinions are on this week’s episode of Big Throne Vibes linked below. This may be our funniest episode yet, you can tell it was tremendous fun to record: